Prepare for more location-based gaming. After receiving multiple requests to utilize Maps data and the widespread success of Pokemon Go, Google has announced that they will be releasing Maps data for mobile game developers.
What we know: Game developers will now have the ability to leverage a new Maps platform to incorporate real-world locations into their mobile games. This is by giving developers access to all of Google Maps data, a new Unity SDK for developers to easily incorporate this data into their games, as well as a new API to help developers create gameplay experiences around these real-world locations.
Why this is interesting: Opening up Maps data to developers gives them an unprecedented amount of data to work with in creating accurate real-world locations for their games. A big question in the industry revolves around finding the best way to blend the digital world with the real world. These moves by Google grant so many more possibilities to figure that out. Though this isn't the first time we've seen a mobile app incorporate real locations into their games. Niantic, a former Google subsidiary, has developed two location based games: Ingress and the overnight phenomenon Pokemon Go, with a third Harry Potter themed game on the way. Though the difficulty in accurately mapping players in the real world alongside the game has limited most other developers from following Niantic's footsteps, we can expect that to change soon.
Though I would still be wary to jump on the bandwagon for any game claiming to be real-world location based. Aside from the issues with accurately tracking players, one of the biggest drawbacks of Pokemon Go was the limited depth of the game. There was no real strategy to winning or losing, just the more you played the better you got, and that was it. I hope to see more games incorporate real-world locations but doing so in a way that becomes more than a collection/walking simulator. Without the nostalgia invoked by Pokemon, there wouldn't be much of a game in Pokemon Go.
We'll see what will come of it.
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